Pressure groups' inability to work together and agree a common set of goals means they risk missing their best opportunity in 10 years to affect world thinking - August's World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD). That is the conclusion of a report released today by Infonic, the Internet research and communications consultancy. The report, the second in a series of five analysing the implications of the WSSD, also predicts that if decisive action is not agreed at the Summit, there will be a backlash against business's role in the sustainability debate.
The report concludes that:
Ã?? Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have failed to put forward a united front or communicate identifiable goals, despite having strengthened their dominance of the media agenda
Ã?? NGOs broadly agree on the need for international accountability rules, the institutionalization of sustainability targets, and a commitment to renewable energy and fair trade, but this has not translated into a coordinated strategy
Ã?? NGOs’ greatest concern appears to be that the Summit will be little more than a PR opportunity for big business
Another feature of the NGO position is declining enthusiasm to work with companies on the issue of sustainability.
“We have seen little sustained collaboration between pressure groups”, says Infonic’s Managing Director Roy Lipski. “Infonic expects a return to traditional NGO methods of individual groups targeting individual companies for protest.”
Since October 2001 Infonic has been tracking the build up to the WSSD, which runs from 26 August – 4 September. The series of monthly executive reports entitled “Johannesburg Briefings” focuses on the reputational implications of the event, the follow-up to the hugely influential Rio Summit in 1992. The Briefings series started in May, it will finish with a post-Summit evaluation in September. Just some of the areas covered include:
Ã?? Expectations and trends: Why is the Summit important? What impact is it likely to have? What are the ‘trigger points’ that will be the main focus of discussions at and around the event?
Ã?? Strategic positioning of the business lobby: What opportunities and threats exist?
Ã?? Tactics and strategies of NGOs: Who are the key players? Are networks and coalitions emerging? If so, what are their goals?
Ã?? Post-Summit evaluation: What are the implications for business? How has the Summit changed expectations of corporate responsibility? Who are the winners and losers?